SureFire UNR Commander

Review: SureFire UNR Commander

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The SureFire UNR Commander is a high-output rechargeable LED flashlight with four output levels – ranging from 30 to 800 lumens – and a high intensity strobe mode.  Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the UNR Commander is “Dual-Fuel” capable and can operate at lower output levels with two 123A batteries in the included battery carrier.

A six position selector ring and unique 4-function tailcap switch are used to activate the various output modes with the full 800 lumen output always instantly available via SureFire’s MaxBlast feature.  The UNR Commander has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $655 with actual retail prices closer to $460.   

SureFire UNR Commander – Overview

SureFire UNR Commander

The UNR Commander comes in a sturdy retail box with the light neatly stored in a foam cut-out and all accessories packaged in a cardboard box.

SureFire UNR Commander packaging

The UNR Commander comes with a wide variety of accessories, including a wall (AC) charger with international adapters, car (DC) charger, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, carrier for 123A batteries (2 primary 123A cells included), rubber anti-roll ring and User’s Manual.

SureFire UNR Commander Accessories

The light itself is constructed of aerospace aluminum with a hard anodized black finish.  Measuring 9.4″ long and weighing in at 12 ounces, the UNR Commander is SureFire’s longest handheld light.

SureFire UNR Commander

The body of the UNR Commander measures approximately 1.07″ in diameter and is knurled for improved grip.  Other styling details such as the slightly wider tailcap and machined flats on the body help to enable a secure hold on the light.  The laser engraving is very sharp and stands out against the matte black finish of the flashlight.

SureFire UNR Commander

The UNR Commander has built-in charging circuitry which eliminates the need to remove the battery or place the light in a cradle for charging.  The charge port does not rely upon a rubber plug to maintain its weather proof integrity.

SureFire UNR Commander

The battery is recharged by plugging either of the included chargers into the side port.  The LED indicator will turn red to indicate the battery is charging and then turn green once the battery is 90% charged.  The battery charges fairly rapidly up to 90%, never taking more than 2.5 hours in my tests.

SureFire UNR Commander

The LED indicator also serves as a fuel gauge when the UNR Commander is in use, giving an indication of the battery status:

  • Green – Battery is fully charged and/or capable of sustaining the current level of output.
  • Amber – Battery charge is low.  Switch to a lower output mode or charge the battery
  • Red – Battery is nearly depleted and cannot sustain the current level of output.  Battery should be recharged or replaced

Changing the output mode may change the status of the indicator light.  For example, while the indicator may be amber in high mode, dropping down to a lower output mode will cause the indicator to turn green if the battery can sustain that level of output. (R1 Lawman shown)

SureFire R1 Lawman Fuel Gauge

Although the User’s Manual states the light may be left plugged into the charger without damaging the battery, a separate note was also included in the paperwork.  It appears that the charger may shut itself off after 10 hours of operation and could then begin to drain the battery very slowly.

SureFire R1 Lawman Recharging Procedure

The lithium-ion battery and 123A battery carrier may be swapped by removing the tailcap and pulling on the U-shaped tab at the rear of the battery or battery carrier.

SureFire UNR Commander Battery

The steps are reversed for installation and the U-shaped tab can be used to rotate the battery or battery carrier to align the electrical contacts with those in the flashlight.  The contacts are shaped so that the battery will not fully seat unless they are positioned correctly.

The lithium-ion battery and 123A battery carrier each measure approximately 106mm long and are just over 20mm in diameter.  The lithium-ion battery has a rated capacity of 10.4Wh (2900 mAh at 3.6 volts).

SureFire R1 Lawman battery

Housed in the aluminum tailcap is SureFire’s 4-function tailcap with MaxBlast capability which allows momentary and constant-on actuation.  The tailcap switch can be “locked out” by loosening it approximately 1/2 turn.  The rubber covered switch protrudes over 3/8″ from the tailcap making it vulnerable to accidental activation.

SureFire UNR Commander Tailcap

The selector ring has a small raised section to indicate which mode has been selected.

SureFire UNR Commander

The head features a smooth bezel and machined flats on the side.  The flats areas will allow the UNR Commander to stay in place on a fairly flat surface but their tapering design minimizes the contact area, allowing the light to roll if on a slight incline.  When more stability is required, the included rubber anti-roll ring can be installed by slipping it onto the bezel.

SureFire UNR Commander Anti-Roll ring

The UNR Commander’s 1.62″ bezel allows it to use some of the same attachments as the R1 Lawman and several previous SureFire incandescent lights such as the M3 CombatLight, 9AN Commander and some weapon lights.  Examples include the FM14 BeamShaper (diffuser), FM15 Red Filter, FM16 Blue Filter, and FM17 cover.

SureFire UNR Commander with FM14 BeamShaper Diffuser

SureFire UNR Commander – Manufacturer’s Specifications

SureFire UNR Commander

Output (max)

w/ Lithium-Ion Battery 800 lumens (2.25 hours**)

w/ 2x123A Primary Batteries 450 lumens (1.25 hours**)

Output (high)

w/ Lithium-Ion Battery 500 lumens (2.5 hours**)

w/ 2x123A Primary Batteries 450 lumens (1.5 hours**)

Output (medium)

w/ Lithium-Ion Battery 130 lumens (6.5 hours*)

w/ 2x123A Primary Batteries 130 lumens (5.25 hours*)

Output (low)

w/ Lithium-Ion Battery 30 lumens (22.75 hours*)

w/ 2x123A Primary Batteries 30 lumens (15.5 hours*)

Output (strobe)

Full output – runtime not provided

Length

9.4 inches (239 mm)

Body Diameter

1.07 inches (27 mm)

Bezel Diameter

1.62 inches (41 mm)

Weight (w/ Battery)

12 ounces (340 grams)

* Until output drops below 10% of initial output     ** Until output drops below 50 lumens

SureFire UNR Commander – Operation

The UNR Commander’s selector ring has six positions, allowing the user to preset the exact mode or output level needed for their task.  Each position has its own detent, preventing the ring from being turned inadvertently.

SureFire UNR Commander Selector Ring

In clockwise order, the six positions are:

  • OFF – the light will not operate
  • Low – 30 lumens
  • Medium – 130 lumens
  • High – 500 lumens (450 lumens with 123A batteries)
  • MAX – 800 lumens (450 lumens with 123A batteries)
  • Strobe

The 4-function tailcap switch is the most unique part of the UNR Commander, allowing direct access to momentary or constant-on activation of both the preset mode and maximum output.

NOTE:  When the selector ring is set to the Strobe position, the UNR Commander will operate only in momentary and constant-on strobe mode.

SurEFire UNR Commander 4-function switch

Momentary Operation:  The switch functions similarly to the two-stage switch found on some earlier SureFire flashlights such as the LX2 LumaMax or EB2T.  A partial press of the tailcap will trigger the preset level while a full press will always result in maximum output, regardless of the preset level (other than strobe).  Releasing the switch will turn the light off.

Constant-On Operation:  The switch may also be moved off-axis like a joystick.  A light press to the side will activate the preset output in constant-on mode and a full side press activating constant-on maximum output, regardless of the preset level (other than strobe).

When using the UNR Commander in momentary mode, it is possible to go directly to constant-on mode (preset or MAX) by pressing the switch to the side.  Likewise, it is possible to go directly to momentary mode from constant-on mode by simply pressing the tailcap button.

SureFire UNR Commander – Performance

A Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens is used to shape the output of the Cree XM-L emitter into a fairly tight beam with a pronounced center hotspot surrounded by a slightly less intense corona and plenty of spill for peripheral vision.

SureFire UNR Commander TIR Optic

Overall the beam has a very slight cool tint most noticeable in the outer portion of the spill beam and some yellow or green tint visible in the corona around the hot spot.  Although this is noticeable when illuminating a nearby wall, it is not very obvious in actual use.

The following slides show the UNR Commander compared to a variety of other lights to give some perspective with regard to output and beam profile.  The images can be compared across their full widths using the slider and additional comparisons can be viewed by using the navigation buttons in the bottom-right corner of each image.

The following lights were used in the comparison (with links to their reviews where applicable):

  1. SureFire P2X Fury
  2. SureFire EB2 Backup
  3. Streamlight ProTac HL
  4. Elzetta Bravo with AVS Head
  5. SureFire R1 Lawman
  6. SureFire UB3T Invictus
  7. SureFire M3LT
  8. Klarus XT-11 (820 lumen version)
  9. Elzetta Charlie with AVS Head
  10. SureFire M6LT
  11. SureFire P3X Fury
  12. Malkoff Hound Dog

Beamshots – 30 Yards to Swing

Runtime

Runtime tests were conducted in the MAX mode using the provided Lithium-Ion rechargeable batter and 123A primary cells.  When powered by the rechargeable battery, output of the UNR Commander drops to two-thirds of its initial output after 2 minutes of runtime.  After this initial drop, output is very stable for over an hour before beginning to decline as the light drops out of regulation.  During continuous operation, the head of the UNR Commander does get somewhat warm but not hot.

Two primary 123A batteries powered the light at a reduced level of output that began a steady decline after approximately 15 minutes of operation.

SureFire UNR Commander runtime

Runtime was also tested in the 500 lumen high mode when powered by the lithium-ion rechargeable battery.  Output was very stable for the first 90 minutes of operation before beginning to decline as the battery was depleted.

SureFire UNR Commander Runtime

The UNR Commander provides a tapering output as the batteries are depleted, giving the user advance notice of the need to charge/change batteries or switch to a backup light.

In my limited testing the UNR Commander appears to come up well short of the manufacturer’s claimed runtimes of 2.25 hours in MAX mode and slightly short of the 2.5 hours for High mode.

Conclusions

The UNR Commander has almost everything – High output, multiple operating modes, two-stage tactical switching and convenient constant-on switching – all packaged in a rechargeable light that also offers the ability to operate on 123A primary batteries.  It’s hard to fathom just how far rechargeable flashlights (and flashlights in general) have advanced over the past 15+ years.

SureFire Rechargeable Flashlights

The UNR Commander is definitely a premium light with respect to its construction, finish, features and price tag.  The flashlight has an overall solid feel and all machining appears well done.  The selector ring is constructed of a very rigid plastic or possibly Nitrolon (the material used in the bodies of the G-series lights) and feels more solid and substantial than it looks.  The laser engraving is top notch and all lettering is a crisp bright white that is very legible.  The body of the UNR Commander is essentially the same as the R1 Lawman and provides the same great grip due to its length and plentiful knurling.

SureFire UNR Commander

Output and runtime in the various modes is respectable and the lower output levels are well spaced, with the smallest perceptible difference being between the MAX (800 lumen) and High (500 lumen) modes.  The charging system has worked well but I can envision some users missing the availability of a cradle charger that would allow charging a spare battery while another one is in the light, as with past SureFire rechargeable lights.

I have always been a fan of selector rings for controlling a flashlight’s output and the ring on the UNR Commander is no exception. The various modes are in a logical order beginning with the lowest modes first and ending with the strobe mode by itself at the end of the sequence.  Although the ring operates smoothly, I tend to select modes by “counting clicks” as the raised indicator on the ring is not very useful for quickly identifying which mode is selected.

The 4-function tailcap is easy to operate with a little bit of practice.  I was originally concerned that mode selection might be tricky or require the “right touch” for consistent operation but over the course of 6 weeks I haven’t encountered any major problems with it in momentary or constant-on mode.  The light is a bit long for use with a tailcap switch and extended use in momentary mode, particularly at the preset level, can become uncomfortable.  Also, the protruding switch makes the light very prone to accidental activation.  SureFire does not currently offer any holsters for the UNR Commander but it seems that a forward-canted bezel-down holster would be a good solution if one were made available.

All things considered, I really want to like the UNR Commander with its versatile switching arrangement but the lack of good carry options limits its usefulness for me.  The issue with accidental activation can be somewhat mitigated by placing the selector ring in the OFF position or by lockout out the tailcap but this makes activating the light a two-step process and much less convenient.  Making the momentary MaxBlast mode available while the selector ring is in the OFF position would provide a nice compromise.

These issues aside, the UNR Commander is a very nice flashlight that effectively bridges the gap between the R1 Lawman and the turbo-head UBR Invictus, allowing an option for users who want some of the features from the UBR without the larger turbo-head.

Strengths

  • High output with a total of 4 output levels (plus strobe)
  • Responsive fuel gauge gives a real-time indication of battery status
  • Instant access to full output or preset mode via the tailcap switch (constant-on and momentary)
  • SureFire’s “No Hassle” warranty

Concerns

  • Protruding tailcap is vulnerable to accidental activation
  • Mode indication on selector ring is not very visible
  • The lack of affordable “spare” batteries and a standalone charger may be a problem for a small number of people.

Share your thoughts, questions, or experiences with the UNR Commander in the comments section below.  Additional information about the UNR Commander can be found on the SureFire website

Have you ever wanted to know what goes into the production of SureFire flashlights?  Check out our exclusive Behind the Scenes look at the SureFire machining and production facilities in Orange County, California.

SureFire UNR Commander – Photos

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10 Comments

    • Yes. When used on the UNR, the R1 tailcap gives momentary and constant-on access to the mode chosen on the selector ring. It does not allow direct access to the “MaxBlast” full output if a lower mode is selected.

      On the other hand, using the UNR tailcap on the R1 gives two output modes and otherwise works the same as on the UNR.

      Thanks for visiting!

  1. Hi Jim,

    does “On the other hand, using the UNR tailcap on the R1 gives two output modes and otherwise works the same as on the UNR.” mean that the 4-function tailcap works exactly the same on R1-Lawman as on UNR Commander? So one can e.g. be on Low Mode selected by the front button of R1-Lawman, then fully presses the 4-function tailcap momentary for its highest output mode?

    Also can this 4-function tailcap screw on the Malkoff bodies?

    And how does it work on a Malkoff flashlight, if it fits mechanically.

    What I like on Surefire UNR Commander is this 4-function tailcap and the multiple output modes. Nevertheless the low capacity battery, that is not even available as an replacement part from Surefire and the open rechargeable ports of R1-Lawman, UNR Commander and UBR Invictus just completely suck. Along with the tapper in most modes due to only one rechargeable battery. Why do they just use one battery?

    What I like on Malkoff is the outstanding build quality, its versatility and the ability to run two 18650 rechargeable batteries – longer runtime without any tappering – but no medium output mode (along with no selector ring). No 4-function tailcap. No diffusor.

    Anyway, your reviews is definitally the very best to be found on the internet. Thank you very much for sharing this.

    Thomas

    • Hi Thomas,

      Your understanding is correct. If the UNR tailcap is used on the R1 lawman, fully pressing the tailcap switch will put the Lawman into its highest output mode.

      The UNR tailcap will not work with the Malkoff bodies as it has a larger diameter. I can’t speak for SureFire and why they chose this specific battery configuration. As far as the Malkoff heads are concerned, the smaller ones (used for drop-ins like the M61 and M91B) can be used with a SureFire FM34 diffuser, if you can find one.

      I appreciate the comments and hope you find this stuff useful!

      • Hi Jim,

        I actually find it VERY usefull!

        Do I assume correctly, that the R1 Lawman tailcap also works on UNR Commander, if UNR Commander tailcap works on R1 Lawman?

        Since you owe both lights which configuration (R1 Lawman; R1 Lawman with UNR Commander tailcap; UNR Commander; UNR Commander with R1 Lawman tailcap) do you prefer?

        As far as I can tell from the pictures R1 Lawman with UNR Commander tailcap is still a bit shorter than UNR Commander. Is this noticible during handling the flashlight (e.g. actual benefits due to shorter length; changes in weight distribution; etc.)?

        Surefire FM34 Diffusor fits Malkoff MD2 head? Really? 😀 You’re AWESOME Jim!

        Is there any other Surefire tailcap, that would be considered an improvement over the standard Malkoff tailcap from your point of view?

        Thank you so much! I really appreciate your effort and guidance.

        Thomas

        • Thomas,

          You are correct, the R1 tailcap will function on the UNR Commander. Doing so gives up the “MAX Blast” feature and the light will will only operate at the level chosen with the selector ring. My personal preference is to use each light with their original tailcap.

          The R1 and UNR have the same bodies so their different lengths are due to the longer tailcap and bezel on the UNR. Swapping the UNR tailcap over to the R1 results in a light that’s only about 1/2″ shorter than a stock UNR. The tailcap makes a negligible difference in weight and length. The vulnerability of the protruding 4-way switch is the most noticeable issue, regardless of which light the tailcap is installed on.

          There aren’t any other SureFire tailcaps that are compatible with these two lights. As far as the Malkoff lights are concerned, there are only 5 SureFire tailcaps that will work (Z41, Z59, Z48, SW01 and SW02). The Malkoff tailcap is clearly superior to the Z59 but the others depend largely upon personal preference. If you have more specific questions about the switches you can head over to the contact page and send an e-mail with your questions.

  2. Also does this light also shut off like R1 Lawmen, if one releases the 4-function tailcap (by using momentary press to activate maximum output) when the light had formerly been set to (continous) medium output mode by usage of the front output selector ring?

    • Yes sir. If the UNR Commander is being operated in contant-on mode (at the selected level) and the 4-way tailcap is fully depressed to activate momentary mode, then the light will turn off when the switch is released.

      Alternatively, you can partially release the momentary switch until the light returns to the preset level and then give it a partial press to the side to reactivate the constant-on output at the selected level. This will cause the light to blink once (very quickly) and is a little bit tricky to do.

Share your thoughts!